FOXBOROUGH—Patriots coach Bill Belichick watched the game tape Monday morning of his team’s 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship and bemoaned the team’s lost opportunities in his final press conference of the 2012 season.
“I know that we definitely missed some opportunities,” Belichick said. “I think the red area was the big deciding factor in the game.”
The Patriots were 1 for 3 in the red zone and were similarly unsuccessful in Ravens territory, getting two crucial turnovers in the second half on Tom Brady interceptions.
“In that 30-to-20 yard-line range, we just couldn’t really get it past that,” Belichick said.
What’s more, the Ravens were able to capitalize on their opportunities, Belichick said. The upset loss left the Patriots crashing after a prosperous season that came with many expectations following a loss in Super Bowl XLVI.
“That’s the NFL. The last game, if you’re playing a game this time of year, you’re either euphoria or it’s a crash landing,” Belichick said. “For us, it was a crash landing.
“A year ago at this time, it was the other feeling. It’s one or the other. There’s no in-between. There’s certainly no soft landing. A season that’s very much alive and with great hopes and expectations and energy, suddenly crashes and it’s over. And that’s the way it is. It’s going to be that way for every team but one each year. That’s the NFL. It’s not gonna change, that’s the way it is.
“Unfortunately that’s where we were last night.”
Looking back on the year, Belichick was still happy with his team. The Patriots won 13 games, advancing to a step away from the Super Bowl.
“The players worked hard behind the scenes,” he said. “Everybody doesn’t see that. They didn’t make excuses. They got better over the course of the season.
“We wouldn’t have gotten where we were without consistent performances over the course of the season.”
The team is now tasked with setting offseason priorities, preparing for the draft, and evaluating the team’s roster as it relates to free agents.
“I will not make any decisions on any players or their future [right now],” Belichick said. “[There’s] too many factors, too many things to consider.”
Belichick, 60, added he’ll be back for his 39th year in the NFL, 19th as a head coach, and 14th with the Patriots.
“You’ll have to deal with me again next year,” he said. “I know that’s disappointing for a lot of you. [Until] I’m told otherwise, I plan on being here.”